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PHL Airport Contract Workers Demand Prompt ‘Living Wage’ Adjustment

(PHL airport workers protest outside the City Hall office of Mayor Michael Nutter.   Photo by Mike Dunn)

(PHL airport workers protest outside the City Hall office of Mayor Michael Nutter. Photo by Mike Dunn)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — About three dozen people working for contractors at Philadelphia International Airport protested this morning outside Mayor Nutter’s office.   They want the “living wage” raises that the mayor has promised to take effect immediately.

The airport workers were unhappy because the mayor’s executive order raising their wages does not apply to contracts currently in force, and that means the raises won’t come until the contracts are amended or renewed.

Baggage handler Nathaniel Smith brought the mayor a toy light sabre with the words “May the enforcement be with you” on it.

“We don’t want to wait until next year (for raises),” Smith said.  “We want what we deserve right now.”

But the mayor’s chief of staff, Everett Gillison, says the only way for the workers to get raises before new deals are struck is for the current contracts to be amended.

“Remember, a contract is between two parties, and each party has various rights,” Gillison said.  “And we have to make sure we’re honoring that process as we go forward.”

The protest came as a City Council committee approved a measure that codifies the mayor’s executive order — announced last month (see related story) — which provides for raises.   The order, like the companion bill, raises the wage rate from $10.88 an hour to $12 an hour, effective next January, and extends the requirement to subcontractors.

Gillison (photo below) said the administration is currently reviewing all city contracts with a view to negotiating amendments to provide the raises before the current deals expire.

(Everett Gillison, chief of staff for Mayor Nutter, testifies before City Council's Commerce and Economic Development Committee.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Everett Gillison, chief of staff for Mayor Nutter, testifies before City Council’s Commerce and Economic Development Committee. Image from City of Phila. TV)

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Councilman Wilson Goode, who prodded the mayor into ordering the raises, says that in the meantime, there’s nothing stopping the contractors from doing the right thing.

“There’s nothing stopping those subcontractors or contractors from paying a living wage right now — there never was,” Goode said today.

Goode’s companion measure, which codifies the executive order, now goes to the full Council for a vote, probably next week.

 

 

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